Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government News Politics

Judge Voids Un-Auditable California Election 177

Posted by kdawson
from the recount-or-rerun dept.
For only the second time in California history, a judge in Alameda County voided an election result and called for the election to be re-run, because the e-voting tallies from Diebold machines couldn't be audited. The vote was on a controversial ballot measure addressing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, and the result was a close margin. Activists went to court to demand a recount, but after the lawsuit was filed, elections officials sent voting machines back to Diebold. The court found that 96% of the necessary audit information had been erased. The judge ordered the ballot measure to be re-run in the next election.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Judge Voids Un-Auditable California Election

Comments Filter:
  • Corporations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZuG (13394) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:46AM (#20850299) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, the corporations seem to win no matter what you do. Running a ballot measure is incredibly expensive. It costs a lot of money to raise public awareness of an issue and run things like get out the vote measures.

    Dragging out a measure with a revote tilts things well in favor of corporations, who have the cash to sustain such an operation. Now the reformers are going to have to fundraise all over again so they can try to put forth an effort in the next election.
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:47AM (#20850303) Journal
    I'd be nice to eliminate the source of the problem, rather than have to litigate over the after-effects.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @07:58AM (#20850421) Homepage Journal
    I think so far as Slashdot and EFF are concerned, the actual issue is a virtual irrelevance. Whether you're voting on a world-changing issue in the seat of national government or a proclamation to put an extra stop sign on the corner of Turkey and Buzzard streets in Bumsville Idaho, the damn things need to work correctly.
  • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:01AM (#20850447)
    Why bother with all that when you can just look at the paper ballots that where printed when...oh wait...there AREN'T ANY!

    This is a prime example of why a purely electronic record of the vote is a Bad Idea. If paper ballots had been printed, reviewed by the voter before being deposited in a secure ballot box, and retained for a recount, there would be no issue.

    Against the cost of re-running a vote, those printers are starting to look pretty chap, I'd wager.
  • by faloi (738831) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:02AM (#20850449)
    What's the old adage? Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. I'm betting there was a lot more than just the results of this ballot measure stored on the machines. They get 'em back, because the clerk sends it back, they start erasing the machines because...well...it's what they do. Then they get flagged that there's this lawsuit going on, and they shouldn't start erasing them yet. Next thing you know, you go another election.

    I have a much easier time believing there was a lot of stupidity on the part of a lot of people than I do believing they were able to successfully orchestrate something that would only end up forcing a re-vote anyway.
  • Re:Corporations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spazmolytic666 (549909) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:02AM (#20850453) Journal
    Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith also said county officials should pay attorneys' fees and reimburse a medical marijuana group more than $22,000 for the costs it incurred during a disputed recount shortly after the November 2004 election.
    At least the medical marijuana group got reimbursed for their attorney fees but... You are right, they now have to campaign to get people out to vote for this again and that equals $$$. It's hard enough to get around all the government disinformation about marijuana, so many people have been brainwashed into thinking the "war on drugs" is doing something good for us. The "war on drugs" is sending non-violent drug users to prison where they learn to be criminals and are more likely to turn into criminals because now their job options are limited by going to prison. It also creates a large black market (aka gangs and crime). Just look at what happened during the alcohol prohibition.
  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:07AM (#20850513) Homepage
    If you had read the article, you would know that the problem was not the machines.

    But the problem really was the machines. Diebold's machines don't create paper trails. If there'd been a paper trail, that paper wouldn't have gone back to Diebold HQ and would not have been erased.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:19AM (#20850603)
    Most industries (finance, law, medicine, accounting...etc) would laugh at the idea of IT systems that have no audit trail. In the worst case scenario, the business could be held liable for damages (sometimes criminally) if certain controls and audit functions are not in place.

    The fact that these machines were ordered, designed, and implemented without these controls shows incompetence (or corruption) at every level of the process - from voting administration, to the manufacture, sale, and installation of the equipment.

    Those who allowed this to happen, should be the subject of investigation by the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, we may have to wait for another administration to do the right thing.

    -ted
  • Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SimonGhent (57578) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:25AM (#20850661)
    Why is this put to a public vote?

    If the medical establishment say that something has a clinical benefit, what business is it of the public?

    Should we have a referendum for every new drug?
  • Re:Shame on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:25AM (#20850665)
    Why did they ALLOW them to send back the machine before things were taken care of

    Because once the machines were back they could be sent somewhere else and make more money

    Why did they ERASE the machines before things were taken care of?

    Because the last thing they want is definitive proof that their equipment is in error, that would cut their profits. Better an election be voided then that.

    Has the nation not bitched enough about paper trails and how precarious votes are already?

    No

    Do they have any clue whatsoever about what they are doing?

    Making craploads of money? Yup, they know that well enough.

    It doesn't take much sense to see that you can't take chances like this on a product that isn't proven and is under -heavy- scrutiny.

    There you go with that sense thing. Let me explain, if they can make money selling badly made unproven kit they will, and this will continue so long as there are people willing to rent it.

  • Re:Shame on... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:26AM (#20850685)
    It won't do jack shit for their reputation, and that of their machines. All anyone will know is that this election had to be redone, Diebold could have prevented that, and if they'd used paper ballots, it wouldn't have had to be redone.

    So, you're in favor of the equipment vendor actually having a hand in the policies and practices of running the elections themselves? This is exactly the sort of thing that people have been screaming about - too MUCH influence by the hardware vendor.

    Again, shame on Diebold for not having a fscking clue how to make and sell their product.

    Except, they made it just fine (it did just what it was asked to do), and they sold it just fine, too. You seem to be suggesting that they should have their own people sitting in election board offices, monitoring the ups and downs of a political process at the local level, and consulting on how the local election board should carry on with the daily activities that they are paid to conduct. Is it your perception that part of Diebold's sales cycle and contract with the entities that use their gear is that they should be on call to direct those districts/states/municipalities/counties in making election process decisions - relative to local statutes and election rules and particular events - about when and how in-machine data should be handled after the election is over? Was that part of the sale - such relatively open-ended consulting services? How many election board meetings should thousands of Diebold employees attend in order to save people from themselves? How many tinfoil-hat conspiracy nuts would then see their involvment in such proceedings to be just another case of elections being 'stolen' by whoever it is they hate that week? Can't have it both ways.
  • Re:Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:31AM (#20850729) Journal
    Because there was a clear law that stated the drug was illegal. New drugs already have a approval process, but you can't just erase old laws without a vote of some sort.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Doonga2007 (1049016) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:40AM (#20850821) Homepage
    That would apply if the popular vote in that case was actually what elected the given candidate.
  • by pjt48108 (321212) <pjt48108NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:50AM (#20850941) Homepage
    The focus of discussions on e-voting machines always seems to come down to the reliability and accuracy of the audits. What this ignores is the potential for the actual voting records to be altered prior to inclusion in the overall voting record.

    The problem with e-voting (in my opinion) is not so much the audit trail, but the fact that e-voting adds unnecessary levels of complexity (and obfuscation and unaccountability) to the voting process. This is the result of government leaders attempting to perform vital civic services on the cheap: why pay poll workers and vote counters, when we can just use machines that do this fast and automagically?

    What the use of e-voting machines invites is the ability/potential not only to count votes FASTER, but to do so behind a hardware/software interface, where much malfeasance can be conjured in code and executed on-the-fly, beyond the observational capacity of effectively the entire voting population.

    Some things are better dealt with in the analog world. A true and accurate accounting of the will of the people is too important to a democracy for us to cut corners. I think it is worth the cost of paper ballots and carbon-based vote counters to effect the will of the people (however much one may or may not agree with the peoples' will).

    That's my two cents on a Thursday before 11am (the time of the morning at which my brain always chugs to life).
  • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexybomber (740588) <boccilino@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:28AM (#20851465)
    You're absolutely right; OxyContin is illegal without a prescription because it's a Schedule II substance. Marijuana, on the other hand, is on Schedule I, which is where they put drugs that:

    # The drug has a high potential for abuse.
    # The drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    # There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.

    (from Wikipedia)

    Schedule I drugs are illegal, period, because the government feels that there's no legitimate reason you should be using them. They consider any use of a Schedule I substance a "recreational" use, because in their opinion, you couldn't possibly be using that substance to treat any illness or condition.

    Of course, pure THC (aka Marinol) is Schedule II, so you could get a prescription for it if you wanted to. But Marinol is manufactured by the drug companies, whereas you could theoretically grow your own marijuana and cut out the middle-man. Hmmmmm, I'm beginning to see a pattern here...
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:17AM (#20852285) Journal
    I have a much easier time believing there was a lot of stupidity on the part of a lot of people than I do believing they were able to successfully orchestrate something that would only end up forcing a re-vote anyway.

    Do you really think it was just stupidity that caused them to design voting machines without a paper trail? You think the people who make our ATMs and slot machines are too incompetent to design an auditable system?
  • Re:Corporations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:21AM (#20852371)
    "but it really doesn't help the cause when - to a casual newsreader - an important test case seems to be about weed."

    Why not? The reason the election result was contest in court to begin with was because of how close a vote it was, suggesting that "to a casual news reader" it's something contentious and debatable, rather than simply the refuge of scoundrels.
  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:23AM (#20852411) Homepage
    Why hasn't this been fixed already?

    It really makes one think, doesn't it? I'll quote a slashdot entry from an earlier related discussion [slashdot.org]:

    The e-voting machines produced by Diebold are deeply flawed in concept.

    The "e-voting" concept should be that the computer prints the ballot and that paper ballot is your vote. That ballot lists ONLY the names you chose. You read that and drop it into the ballot box.

    The computer counts the number of paper ballots it has printed for each candidate. This number can be released to the news agencies. But the real vote is the paper ballot.

    At the end of the day, the names of the voters who used that machine are counted, the paper ballots are counted and both of those are compared to the total number of votes the machine says were cast. If they don't match, there is a problem.

    In case of recount, the paper ballots are hand counted.

    A random number of machines are checked against the ballots cast at them.

    The fact that this is such an obvious solution and that it is so trivial to implement is what makes the chosen convoluted, hackable, no-recount alternative so suspicious. What company would choose (and what government would allow) anything but the easy and elegant solution described if not because they plan to perpetrate election fraud?

  • Re:Corporations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:06AM (#20853129)
    Idiot stoners were idiots before pot, smoking pot didn't make them dumber.

    You'd be surprised at the number of the worlds brightest minds (surely brighter than yours) who smoke pot and / or support reform.
  • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:19AM (#20853347)
    Reasonable intelligent supporters of marijuana legalization don't think it's harmless, they just think it's less harmful than alcohol, which is legal. I don't know enough say for sure that marijuana is less harmful, but I've never seen any good studies suggesting that it's more harmful. (Certainly the study you link to could have been about alcohol instead, and no one would bat an eye).
  • Re:Corporations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deagol (323173) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:20AM (#20853391) Homepage
    I think he meant that the history behind the demonization of weed has been solely to the benefit of big business, the prison industrial complex, and big government, while at the expense of taxpayers and the freedom of many individuals. All with a host of evidence supporting that, in terms of substance with abuse potential, pot should be *way* down on the priority list, if on the list at all.
  • Re:Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:59AM (#20854111) Homepage Journal

    illegal for recreational use... I could be wrong
    At the federal level, it is considered illegal for all uses. It's classified in the same bracket as heroin.

    a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classified marijuana as having high potential for abuse, no medical use, and not safe to use under medical supervision. [wikipedia.org] Which any scientific study will tell is a load of steaming bullshit :(
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @12:56PM (#20855021) Homepage Journal

    It is now illegal to eat pot in the USA because (I kid you not) smoking tobacco causes cancer.
    Documentation please...
    See this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_rescheduling_in_the_United_States#Schedule_I [wikipedia.org] for background on the classification of Cannabis, and I can't find the exact quote from the late 90's reclassification denial, but basically they said it should remain in schedule I because: Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including most of the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke [usdoj.gov]. Smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits about four times more tar into the lungs than a filtered tobacco cigarette. (notice that one delivery method without filter is selectively compared with a filtered method for the other substance)

    What is really interresting about this is that not only do they totally ignore the fact that pot can be eaten (not exclusively smoked), and that it too can be filtered (water pipes, etc), but that there are no studies that show an increase in cacer from smoking Cannabis, in fact, some of the studies done show a decrease in cancer incidence from people smoking pot [bbc.co.uk], because while nicotine is a cancer-causing violent poison, THC is a cancer-reducing [qmul.ac.uk] psychotrope with no know toxicity level (it is impossible to have a lethal overdose of THC). But they talk about the other substances, besides from nicotine, that are also present and nasty... and assume that no one ever filters them out, or simply bypass their creation by cooking it instead of burning it.

    It is illegal in spite of all available science, it was made illegal temporarily in waiting for this evidence, but once the evidence came, it was ignored. The law is a clear fraud, and a deadly one at that: Peter Alexander McWilliams (August 5, 1949 - June 14, 2000) was a writer and cannabis activist. A vocal supporter of medical cannabis due to being terminally ill with AIDS and cancer, McWilliams was investigated by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and convicted for violating federal marijuana laws, even though medical marijuana was legal under California state law. He later choked to death on his own vomit when he was forced to switch from cannabis to Marinol in order to remain free on bond pending sentencing .
    No honest man should stand for this travesty.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

Working...